Kodi aims to be the ultimate gateway to all kinds of entertainment. Until now, that meant movies, series, and music. In its next release, it will also fully support games. It will also integrate emulators, allowing you to play most titles from older systems, computers, game consoles, or arcades.
The user known as Zach Morris thought about this and came up with an ingenious solution: just as Kodi allows not only “local” media playback but also Internet streams, why should it be restricted to “local” games installed on your computer, especially when the Internet Archive has backups for virtually all games from the older systems that Kodi will support through emulators?
The Internet Archive Game Launcher, or IAGL for short, is the result of this idea: an add-on that can “link” the existing Kodi emulator support with the ROMs available on the Internet Archive! Once you add IAGL to Kodi, you’ll gain access to tens of thousands of titles for older systems, available as ROMs in the Internet Archive. All are playable through Kodi’s new emulator support – with a little help from RetroArch and its multiple emulator cores.
Although Kodi already includes support for some emulators, some of them may not be available on your operating system. Besides, this functionality is still considered “beta.” That’s why it also supports “collaborating” with RetroArch, “borrowing” its emulator cores.
Until Kodi matures in this regard, it’s better to use it in combination with RetroArch for the best results. Thus, start by installing RetroArch. The app is quite popular, so you’ll probably be able to find it in your distribution’s software center/app store. If you are using a Debian / Ubuntu compatible distribution, you can install it with the command:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libretro/stable sudo apt update sudo apt install retroarch*
You can find instructions for installing it in other distributions at its official site.
When you are asked about additional dependencies before the installation of RetroArch, choose that you want to install
retroarch-assets-xmb, as they can significantly enhance the user experience.
Continue by installing the second part of the equation, Kodi itself, if it is not already installed on your computer. On Debian / Ubuntu-compatible distributions, enter the following in a terminal:
sudo apt install kodi
If you want to experiment with Kodi’s built-in emulation support, you can also try installing
libretro-addons. We chose to ignore them for the time being since they’re not yet as mature, up to date, feature-rich, or even available on some OSes as RetroArch’s are.
Download the IAGL repository zip file
Visit Zach Morris’s GitHub page and download his repository zip file. (You will find it on the page almost right under the heading “Installation.”)
Update everything in RetroArch
Run RetroArch and from its first menu select “Online Updater.” Although you can selectively download emulation cores, demos for some systems, etc., we recommend you upgrade and download everything. This will eliminate the chances you’ll be missing support for emulating a specific system or nice accompanying extras, like screenshots and cheats, when you get to play a game.
If you want, you can take a look at the rest of the settings and change them as you like, but we won’t go into that. You can use our in-depth guide on how to play PlayStation games with RetroArch as a start.
Enabling “unknown sources”
Run Kodi and go to the Add-ons menu. Click on the button with the package icon that appears in the top left. Select “Install from Zip file” from the available options.
Kodi will let you know that, for security reasons, you are not allowed to install add-ons from unknown sources and provide a shortcut to the option that allows this security measure to be disabled. Select the “Settings” option it presents to go there.
Click on “Unknown sources” to enable installation support from unknown sources. Answer “Yes” to the security warning that appears.
Adding the IAGL repository
Return to the Add-ons menu and repeat the previous steps by clicking the package icon and selecting “Install from Zip file.”
This time Kodi will ask you to select the Zip file you want to add. Locate and select the file you downloaded earlier from Zach Morris’s GitHub page.
Installing the actual add-on
In the previous step you added Zach Morris’s repository to Kodi. Now you can add the Internet Archive Game Launcher add-on itself from this repository. Go back to Add-ons, click the button with the little open box again, but this time choose “Install from repository.”
From the list of available repositories that will appear, select “Zach Morris Add-ons” and then “Add-on repository.” Continue with a click on “Zach Morris Add-ons” (again), “Game Providers” and, finally, the Internet Archive Game Launcher add-on itself. A page with information on the add-on will show up. Click on “Install” in the lower right to add IAGL to Kodi.
Click OK when your Kodi presents a list of extras needed by the Add-on for its proper operation. At least one of them, YouTube, will ask you to complete a basic setup wizard after it is installed. However, its setup is almost fully automatic, so you usually won’t have to do anything apart from acknowledging its installation.
Almost there with IAGL
Return to Add-ons’ main menu, where you will now find both the YouTube add-on and the one we are primarily interested in, the Internet Archive Game Launcher. Its installation doesn’t mean it’s ready to use – now you’ll have to tweak some settings before you reach a point where games are playable.
Accept the terms of its license with a click on “Agree,” then select “Add-on settings” from the menu at the left of the screen.
If the menu is not visible, it is because the default theme of Kodi prefers to hide its option panels to keep the screen tidy and clean from unnecessary elements. To access it, move the mouse cursor to the left edge of the screen or press the left cursor key on your keyboard.
Increase the cache size
In the General category, locate the Cache Size (MB) parameter that will be initially set to “Zero (Current Game Only).” This setting means that only the active game will be kept on your disk. To avoid downloading the same files repeatedly and minimize waiting times and use of bandwidth, change the parameter “upwards” by allocating some space on your disk for the storage of the games you play through IAGL.
We can’t suggest a specific number for everyone since it depends on how much space you can spare, the games you prefer to play, and the systems you like to emulate. You can cram even more than 50 Amiga games in 50MBs of space, but you’d need from two to twenty times that amount for a single multi-CD PlayStation game. The general rule of thumb is “the more space you can spare for caching, the better.”
System Type and RetroArch as Launcher
Proceed to External Launchers and click My System Type. Choose “Linux / Kodibuntu.”
Change the Emulator Launcher to “External” in the Setup Wizard so that Kodi will use RetroArch to play ROMs instead of its own emulators. Click on “Execute Setup Wizard,” and follow any steps it presents.
Time to play
Return to Add-ons once more and select Internet Archive Game Launcher. This time, you won’t need to tweak more settings – everything will theoretically be set up and the Kodi and IAGL combination will offer you instant access to the Internet Archive’s ROMs collections.
This is where the fun begins! You can scroll through the listings and search between different systems – from Amstrad to Amiga and from classic arcades to the Sega Saturn. Although the compatibility and availability of the libretro emulators used varies between different Linux distributions, the largest selection of the games available in IAGL will be instantly playable.
IAGL lists the titles of each system in lists by title, year, category, etc. When you find a game you want to play, choose it by clicking on it with your mouse or selecting it with the cursor keys and pressing enter to launch it.
If you have something like an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation joypad already set up on your system, Kodi and RetroArch will probably have picked it up, and you’ll be able to use it to both navigate their menus and for playing games. Use the d-pad or left thumbstick to move, A (Xbox 360 joypad) or X (PlayStation joypad) to select something, B (Xbox 360 joypad) or Circle (PlayStation joypad) as back/cancel.
Launch the game
After selecting a title, with a click on Launch, IAGL will automatically download it from the Internet Archive and “forward” it to the appropriate RetroArch emulator core. In minutes, if not seconds, it will be running on your screen. And if you increased your cache settings as we suggested, the next time it will start instantly since it will be available locally.
Also take note of the two useful additional options accompanying launch: one of them allows you to watch a trailer to decide if you want to try out a game. Usually, downloading and running a small-ish ROM file is quicker than watching a trailer, so this option is more like “fan service” that makes retro games feel a bit new. You can also manually download a game so that it’s available locally – if it has not already been downloaded and stored in the cache – to avoid having to download it when you try to launch it in the future. That’s more useful in case you’re behind a slow or metered Internet connection, allowing you to plan for the future by pre-downloading the games you’d like to play next.
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